These Gluten-free Quinoa Chocolate Cupcakes are deliciously moist with a rich dark chocolate flavour. They can be made without refined sugar! These flourless cupcakes are perfect for a birthday or special dessert when topped with whipped chocolate coconut milk frosting.
Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes: let's bring back an old favourite! Do you remember when Chocolate Quinoa Cake first appeared on the scene a few years ago? We all felt like we were making a healthier choice by adding quinoa to our cake batter. And now this recipe for even healthier chocolate quinoa cupcakes satisfies all my criteria for a cupcake!
❤️ Why you'll love these quinoa cupcakes
- they feature dark, rich chocolate
- they're moist and tender
- they can be made with plant-based milk
- and they are free of gluten!
🛒 Ingredients and substitutions
You'll find a complete list of ingredients with amounts in the recipe card below. But before we get to the full recipe, here are a few notes about some of the key ingredients.
- cooked quinoa: Quinoa can increase by 3 times when cooked, so you'll need to cook ⅔ cup of dry quinoa with a little less than 1 ⅓ cups of water.
- milk: You can use any type of milk, plant-based or dairy milk.
- butter: you can use all butter or a combination of butter and coconut oil
- sugar: I've tested this recipe several times with both granulated sugar or coconut sugar.
- cocoa powder: unsweetened.
Here's an overview of what you'll do to make this recipe perfectly. You'll find complete instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post.
You'll start by cooking the quinoa and letting it cool while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
Next, you'll prepare your baking pans. This recipe will make 18 muffins or 12 regular muffins and 18 mini muffins. Alternatively, it will make two 8-inch round cakes or one 9 x 13-inch cake.
After combining the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender, you'll add the cooled quinoa, melted butter and coconut oil to the blender. Sift the sugar, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda, then add the blended ingredients to the dry ingredients.
Fill the muffin tins and bake!
Once they're completely cool, frost them with chocolate coconut milk frosting.
How to make whipped chocolate coconut frosting
- First, melt the chocolate chips in a glass bowl suspended over simmering water.
- Remove the bowl from the heat, then stir in the hardened portion of a can of coconut milk.
- Stir until it has melted and is well combined, and then allow it to cool completely before whipping it.
- Chill it in the fridge.
Tip: If you make sure to wait until it is completely chilled and beginning to harden before you whip it, you'll be happy with the results. It holds its shape and makes decorating with a piping bag a breeze. Some brands of coconut milk will become firm faster than others.
If you find it has hardened too much to whip, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes until slightly softened.
🔁 Possible Variations
I've made this recipe many times, as cake, as muffins, and as cupcakes and it's always popular. I also like to make these as mini cupcakes for those who want a tiny taste!
I adapted the original recipe that appeared in Quinoa 365. I replaced the milk with a plant-based alternative and reduced the amount of granulated sugar and replaced it with coconut sugar. Best of all, I added a fabulous whipped chocolate frosting made with coconut milk.
👍🏼 Helpful Tips to make quinoa chocolate cupcakes
Make sure you have a can of full-fat coconut milk chilling in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Cook and cool the quinoa. Please note that the recipe requires 2 cups of COOKED quinoa, not dry. Cook ⅔ cup of dry quinoa in 1 ⅓ cups of water to yield 2 cups of cooked quinoa. Measure the cooked quinoa before adding it as sometimes it yields a little more than 2 cups.
Choose your sugar
The original recipe from Quinoa 365 called for 1 ½ cups of granulated sugar. I find 1 ¼ cups is enough. I've used both coconut sugar and granulated sugar.
Both types of sugar make a delicious chocolate cupcake!
Use a blender
If you have a high-speed blender like a Vitamix or a Blendtec, definitely use it for this recipe! It breaks down the quinoa very quickly, so there are no little lumpy seeds in the finished product. I would imagine a regular blender or food processor could do the same with just a little more processing time.
Expect flat cupcakes
This recipe does not produce cupcakes with a highly rounded dome. They do rise and they have a light texture, but they often sink a little after baking. You can make that rounded dome look with frosting if you'd like.
With the publication of the popular cookbook Quinoa 365 way back in 2010, quinoa became a trendy food.
Advertised as gluten-free, wheat-free and nutrient-packed, we were adding it to everything: stir-fries, salads, muffins, and yes, even chocolate cake. Later, it played second fiddle to chia seeds and goji berries as they rose in the food trend charts and we experimented with these superfoods.
But quinoa's popularity has resurged once again, and it is now higher than ever. It's an ancient crop, grown in the Andes. While it is a grain crop, it is grown for its seeds, the part that we eat. Quinoa is a good source of protein, it's gluten-free, and it is easy to digest.
Storage and freezing instructions
To store: Frosted cupcakes need to be refrigerated. It's best to store them in an airtight container.
To freeze: These quinoa cupcakes freeze beautifully. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Serve these flourless chocolate cupcakes and wait for chocolatey smiles all around!
🗒 More gluten-free cake recipes
- Blackberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Cake - Gluten-free
- Gluten-Free Blueberry Lemon Coffee Cake
- Flourless Nectarine Ricotta Cake
- One-Bowl Flourless Lemon Almond Cake
When you make these gluten-free quinoa chocolate cupcakes, please leave a comment and a star rating below. Thanks in advance! Subscribe to my newsletter and receive new recipes delivered straight to your inbox once a week.
This recipe was originally published in 2016. It has been updated with extra information and new photos.
Gluten-free Quinoa Chocolate Cupcakes
- 2 cups cooked quinoa, see note below
- ⅓ cup milk, plant-based or dairy milk
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup melted butter
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil
- 1 ¼ cups sugar granulated sugar or coconut palm sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
Whipped Chocolate Coconut Cream Frosting
- 1 14 ounce can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
- 2 cups chocolate chips* use Enjoy Life brand for paleo diet
- Cook ⅔ cup dry quinoa in 1 ⅓ cups of water. ( ⅔ cup of quinoa cooked in 1 ⅓ cups water will yield approximately 2 cups of cooked quinoa.) Spread out on a baking sheet to cool.
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line 12 to 18 muffin tins with parchment paper liners or 12 muffin tins and 18 mini muffin tins. Alternatively, line two 8″ round pans or one 9 x 13″ pan with parchment paper.
- Mix the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor.
- Add the cooked and cooled quinoa, butter, and coconut oil to the blender. This is where a high-speed blender like a Vitamix or a Blendtec comes in handy, as it will grind the cooked quinoa, preventing a lumpy texture in the cooked cake.
- Sift the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt in a large bowl.
- Add the wet ingredients from the blender to the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Fill lined muffin tins ¾ full, spreading to the edges.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 24-27 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.Remove, let cool in tins for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Remove the parchment paper liners. Let cool before frosting with whipped chocolate coconut cream frosting.
Whipped Chocolate Coconut Cream Frosting
- Melt chocolate in a bowl over, not in, simmering water.
- Remove the can of coconut milk from the refrigerator. Carefully open it and scoop the hardened milk from the can into the chocolate, saving the liquid for another use. Stir until melted and combined. Remove from heat, let cool.
- When completely cool and just beginning to harden slightly, beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
- Frost. Makes 18 cupcakes or 12 cupcakes and 12 - 18 mini cupcakes.
Could I use a flaxseed/chia seed substitute for the eggs?
Hi Savannah, I haven't tested that myself so I can't guarantee results. This recipe calls for 4 eggs. They're needed to provide the "lift" to help rise the batter, as there is no gluten in the recipe. Flax eggs work in some recipes, but they don't bind or rise during baking as chicken eggs do. If you do try it, please let me know! Thanks for your question.
Love these! They are moist and chocolately -- you'd never guess they are gluten free
Thanks! I just made another batch of these and froze half of them. Thanks for taking the time to comment!
Can’t wait to try your recipe! Any thoughts on using date sugar?
Flavour & Savour
I haven't tried it myself, but date sugar can usually be used as a 1:1 replacement for coconut sugar or granulated sugar. It should work just fine! It will probably give it a rich flavour, too. Let me know if you try it.
Can this be made in cake pans?
Flavour & Savour
Yes, it can. It may take a little longer to bake. You'll know it's done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
I am so excited to make this. I have a quick question before I get started. Are you using Imperial, Metric or US Standard measurements. Since this is a cupcake recipe, I want to make sure I get the measurements right. Thanks so much, I can't wait to make this for Easter.
Flavour & Savour
I use US Standard measurements. Note, however, that the can of coconut milk I used was 14 oz. In Canada, as you know, they are sometimes only marked in millilitres. Many cans of different brands of coconut milk are 400 ml which is not an exact conversion. However, in the frosting recipe, it really won't make any difference.
Uber-chocolatey is right! These are delicious.
Flavour & Savour
Thanks Laura! Can we ever have too much chocolate?
Bethany @ athletic avocado
Adding quiona in place of flavor is GENIUS! Not only does it up the nutritional value, but Im sure it lends the perfect texture to these cupcakes!
Flavour & Savour
Thanks Bethany, I was concerned that there would be little quinoa lumps in it, but no--the blender took care of that! Thanks for your comment.